Great analysis of the “spin” of last year’s Synod on the Family. Fr. Z rants.



Synod Fatigue is sure to be setting in now, if it hasn’t already.

Just wait.  It’ll get worse.

But you must stay focused.  Don’t tune out Synod news.

“But Father! But Father!”, some will say, “It’s all too much!  I just can’t take it any more.  It’s too depressing.  Besides, we can’t do anything about it and it just makes me sad and scared.”

Good.  I want you to be sad and scared.

I want you to feel some anxiety.  Use your apprehension to stay focused on the issues.  You must be ready and willing to talk about them with clarity in your own spheres of influence, to set matters straight, to correct errors in MSM reports and in the catholic media, to encourage others.  You must have some anxiety fuel going for you to sustain you in the onslaught of articles and books that will flood your consciousness.

You must fast and pray before, during and after the Synod.  These are weapons of the spiritual life that accomplish mighty things in the spiritual battlefield we now tread.

I want you to be a little angry, with a clean anger, and a little frightened, but not paralyzed, so that you will stay frosty and focused, so that you will have the wherewithal to sustain fasting and prayer.

That said…

Here is great analysis from Austin Ruse (of CFAM) at Crisis (which is turning out to be better and better).  My emphases and comments:

The Africans Will Save the Synod, the Church, and the World

I understand spin. Spin is not lying. It is capturing the narrative. If your side does not capture the narrative, the other side will. The other side most likely will have the media on their side so capturing the narrative is so much easier for them. Still, you must try.

Therefore, I fully understand the gaggle of faithful Catholics gathered here and there in cafés near the Vatican pressroom during those October days of the Extraordinary Synod last fall. [2104] Huddled together, coming up with talking points, trying to capture the narrative.

The progressive narrative on that first day when the Vatican released the interim document was that Church teaching on homosexuality and on communion for the divorced and civilly remarried was at least softening, if not changing altogether. This news rocketed around the world in the moments after the document was released. Some hopeful people practically danced in the streets.

The counter narrative cooked up in those cafés that afternoon and on subsequent days was that nothing had changed. The interim document did not change doctrine. It only softens the practice. We are meeting people where they are. We were told the Holy Spirit protected the synod and that everything would turn out okay.

There is a tendency, a good tendency, for faithful Catholics to step in and defend the Church, to explain what is almost always misunderstood, either through ignorance of Church teaching, or through willful manipulation. It is natural to step in and defend your Mother.

It seems to me that these faithful Catholics, some of them anyway, were being used. [Duped?] Still others were taking advantage of their good natural inclination. In actuality, this counter narrative was not so much counter after all. It was a narrative hewing closely to what some in the synod were driving for all along, that nothing much had changed when, in fact, a great deal had changed. Moreover, while these good Catholics thought they were defending the Church and the Pope, [NB] they were actually supporting something called the “synodal process” that was cooked-up by those wanting to change Church teaching.  [That’s right.  And if you want coroboration, watch how the rules will be changed yet again for this next Synod in October.]

There was a third narrative coming from faithful Catholics who were also huddling around Rome that week: that is, a great deal might change, and that the document was an enormous problem striking at the heart of Church teaching born from Scripture, tradition, and other sources of Magisterial teaching. The document represented nothing short of revolutionary change. These people had the better argument.

I was in the pressroom during that week when the document was released. It was a remarkable scene for a synod. Something big was clearly up because we were told the pressroom for a synod is usually largely empty. This time, it was packed to the rafters.

It was hard not to see that controversy would surround this synod. It was preceded by a deeply misguided attempt to discern popular Catholic opinion about certain hot button Church teachings through a survey sent to all the bishops in the world. Not surprising at all that those pushing certain points of view used the results for their own ends. [Doing some canvassing before a Synod is not bad in itself.  Much depends on how it was done and what impression it was intended to make.  Some people attached to it (wrongly) when the aberrant notions of a zero-information Catholic sample groups and the inevitable dissidents suggested that “official” Catholic teaching and law had to change, that the sensus fidelium was somehow pointing the direction.]

The pressroom was electric; journalists practically shouted their questions. Experienced Vatican journalists exchanged shocked expressions as the Vatican spokesman and two bishops fumbled through answers about how adulterous couples could be accepted for communion, or exactly how the Church could or would welcome homosexual couples. Question after question, fumbled answer after fumbled answer. It was a disaster. Subsequent days in that room further revealed a synod out of control, and one that pitted bishops against each other.  [That, my friends, is “synodal process”. ¡Hagan lío!]

What we saw in the pressroom that week was only a peek into the machinations going on behind the scenes. Some of this broke into the open, by means of what some bishops said in the pressroom, especially Archbishop Wilfred Napier of South Africa, who was disgusted that the initial document misrepresented the actual discussion in the synod.

One of the journalists [Edward Pentin – author of Rigging The Synod.] in the pressroom made global news when he caught German cardinal Walter Kasper denigrating the African bishops, who were the biggest block to the German attempt to change Church teaching. Edward Pentin of Zenit and National Catholic Register caught all this on tape, so when Kasper denied it, he walked right into a revealing moment: [NB] the Germans might do and say practically anything to advance their cause and denigrate their critics. [That’s one of the points you should take away from this piece.]

Pentin tells this and many other stories in his new e-book The Rigging of a Vatican Synod? [aka The Smoking Gun Book™. UK HERE. This is an e-book – not published in paper.  Don’t have a Kindle yet?  Get a Paperwhite HERE.  Kindle Fire HERE.  UK buy a Kindle HERE. You can also read online.] I think his Ignatius editors must have insisted on that question mark because the book is page after page of evidence that the synod was rigged stem to stern by the synod secretariat led by Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Archbishop Bruno Forte, and others in cahoots with the Germans Kasper and the aptly named Cardinal Reinhard Marx, all of whom were explicit in their desire that Church teaching change.

Pentin presents evidence of manipulation in practically everything related to the synod, including the fact that homosexuality was barely a topic of conversation for the synod fathers, yet loomed large in the interim document. Pentin reports, “Vatican spokesman Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi said he recalled only one speech out of about 265 that discussed homosexuals during the debate.”

Pentin reports on some things not previously revealed. For instance, he records that the synod secretariat deliberately excluded “conservative” theologians as experts for the meeting. He also reports that Archbishop Bruno Forte was elected to the position of special secretary of the extraordinary “by only a small number of the fifteen-member Ordinary Council of the Synod of Bishops.” Forte is generally blamed for writing the most controversial paragraphs of the interim document. [Card. Erdo, Pres. of the Synod, said he did.] Indeed he was outed as the author of the gay paragraphs by Napier of South Africa during the raucous first-day press conference. [I think it was Erdo.]

Pentin also presents voluminous evidence that Kasper, seemingly with the approval of Pope Francis, initiated a global campaign to change Church teaching on marriage, beginning with his two-hour address to a consistory of cardinals wherein he “floats the idea of admitting divorced and ‘remarried’ Catholics to Holy Communion without amendment of life.” Kasper then published this confidential talk and took his arguments on the road, including to Fordham University in New York.

So it’s odd that Kasper and his allies got so angry when a group of cardinals and other experts published a book upholding Church teaching on marriage,


[The incredibly important – I think fair to say “historic”  Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church – UK HERE] and then tried to get copies to the synod fathers. Their efforts were blocked by the synod secretariat. [The books were stolen,] Pentin tells this story in great detail and the story reveals a malicious attitude that the synod managers seem to have toward Church tradition and those trying to uphold it.

Kasper’s proposal to allow divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive communion was challenged in the Ignatius Press book Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church. It included essays by Cardinal Raymond Burke, Cardinal George Pell, and Cardinal Gerhard Müller, who heads the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

[…]The cover-up of what happened with the book is quite remarkable. But there is also the fallout—the score settling. Pentin reports that Baldeserri’s cronies tried to get American Father Robert Dodaro to resign his post as president of the Institum Patristicum Augustinianum in Rome because Dodaro served as editor of the book.

The narrative from the Kasper camp was that the book created a battlefield in the synod, and that it was intended to undermine the synod, even though it was Kasper who began the debate.

Remarkably, Kasper said the book should have been given to him in advance so that he could “review it.” [ROFL!] Vaticanista Marco Tosatti wrote in La Stampa that a group of Italian bishops told the Pope that the five cardinals who wrote the book had the “sole intention of fighting against Kasper,” and that the cardinals had committed a “mortal sin” in publishing it.

So angry was Kasper that he actually shouted at Cardinal Burke on the floor of the synod meeting. [True.] It is said the book was the final straw that caused the Pope to fire Burke from head of the Apostolic Signatura, thereby guaranteeing that he would not be present at the synod starting in a few weeks, where all these questions will come up for debate again.

Burke will certainly be missed. He has been fearless in continuing the debate as he circles the globe in his new role as Patron of the Order of Malta. Anyone who thought he would go quietly is sorely mistaken.

But even without Burke, many others oppose these doctrinal changes, including the contributors to Eleven Cardinals Speak, available from Ignatius Press next week.

Included in this group is African cardinal Robert Sarah of the Ivory Coast. He will not be the lone African at the synod. Wilfred Napier of South Africa will be there again, along with others. When Kasper lashed out at the Africans a year ago, it was these men to whom he was talking and they are weary of taking ideological guff from pushy condescending Europeans. I see this at the UN, too. There, too, it is primarily the Africans who are standing up to the West.

Could it be that the Africans will save the synod, the Church and the world?

Save the Synod – Save the World?   No, I’ll stick with the formulation Save the Liturgy – Save The World.  But the contribution of the Africans will be huge this October.

The “sequel” to the Five Cardinals Book™ is coming.  HERE

The Eleven Cardinals Book is on its way.  UK HERE

Eleven Cardinals Speak On Marriage and the Family

Eleven Cardinals Book

Click me!

Edited by Winfried Aymans the Eleven Cardinals Book is slated for release on 25 September (in advance of the Synod on the Family).  For more on the Cardinals, HERE.  The publisher is – who else? – Ignatius Press!

This book has as its focus merciful pastoral ministry to those who are in challenging marriage situations.  It will address marriage preparation, evangelization and conversion, the situation of the divorced and civilly remarried.

Next… slated for release on 28 September (in advance of the Synod on the Family), also from Ignatius Press (who else?)…

Christ’s New Homeland – Africa: A contribution to the Synod on the Family

This is the Ten Africans Book™!  UK HERE

Christs New Homeland Africa

Ten African cardinals and bishops wrote essays about the attitudes of Africans about marriage and the family.   The indomitable Francis Card. Arinze wrote the preface.

Among the cardinals and bishops are

Card. Sarah
Card. Arinze
Card. Tumi
Card. Sarr
Arcbp. Kleda

There will be Kindle versions of both.

Get a Kindle now, if you don’t have one already.  USA HERE – UK HERE

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in ¡Hagan lío!, Cri de Coeur, Goat Rodeos, One Man & One Woman, Our Catholic Identity, Pò sì jiù, Pray For A Miracle, Synod, The Coming Storm, The Drill, The future and our choices, Wherein Fr. Z Rants and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    This is the latest I have seen about how the rules have been “changed yet again” so far, and who’s included and who’s excluded, etc.:

    Are there any helpful comparative lists online anywhere of all who attended in 2014 and all who are intended to, this year?

  2. DeGaulle says:

    By the end of this century it is estimated that there will be perhaps 4.4 billion Africans. There may be very big changes ahead.

  3. MikeM says:

    On pure procedural grounds, this “synodal process” is absurd. Even if the results turn out not to be damaging, or even if one supports the apparent goals of the synod, Catholics who care to see a well run Church should be outraged at the blatantly manipulative way that it has been staged. The collection of participants is nonsensical. Taking a vote among them is, as a result, fairly meaningless. No one who has ever tried to organize people in a productive way would break down the discussions the way that they have. The way that messages are made public is dishonest.

    I would commend any bishop who declined an invitation to participate in this synod. Showing up just allows your name to be used to lend credibility to a charade.

  4. Mario Bird says:

    After reading 50 or so pages of The Rhine Flows Into The Tiber (and having read Nicola Giampietro’s book on the liturgy a few years ago), this all seems like deja vu. St. Boniface, ora pro nobis!

  5. If anyone knows of a stable African country where Christians are not persecuted, I have been tempted to make plans to move there after I am free of my obligations in the United States. It is starting to look as though the Africans are our last, best hope.

  6. Lin says:

    I am terrified by everything that is happening! All I can do is pray! I feel so guilty because of my uneasiness about this Pope. I went to confession on Saturday but can’t shake the concern over the Pope’s visit and the upcoming synod. It matters not that doctrine has not changed when the world runs on perception. Far, far too many of my family, friends, and co-workers are ex-Catholics and they think this Pope believes it is OK to leave the Church. That’s just my old fashion catechism classes kicking in. Pray! Pray! Pray!

  7. jfk03 says:

    I will fast and I will pray. We need people cut from the same cloth as St. Athanasius. We are dealing with pure, unadulterated heresy.

  8. mysticalrose says:

    I am actually much less fearful about the Synod than I was, now that Pope Francis’ motu proprio has been issued. It is clear now that Francis will do whatever he wants to do, without regard for the Synod of bishops anyway. He’s already taken the “teeth” out of the Synod. Do I think this is a dreadful turn of events — absolutely. But I am more clear-sighted about it all, rather than afraid.

  9. Arele says:

    This is indeed a great analysis of what happened at last year’s synod. If you don’t have time to read The Rigging of a Vatican Synod, this analysis is a great “reader’s digest” version.

    It’s a real eye opener.

    And yes, prayer and fasting are truly needed. This is SERIOUS STUFF!

    Thanks, Fr. Z, for keeping us abreast of this! It’s perhaps the most important thing your blog does at this critical time. (Well, that and reminding people to go to confession, of course!)

  10. Pingback: Great Analysis of the Spin of Synod on the Family - Big Pulpit

  11. Vox clamantis in deserto says:

    Just a minor correction – cardinal Sarah is from Guinea, not from Ivory Coast.

  12. StWinefride says:

    The Remnant Newspaper have started a prayer brigade; at 3 pm (Central Time) and around 9 or 10pm for us in Europe, those who have joined pray the long St Michael prayer for the Synod on the Family in October:

  13. JonPatrick says:

    Andrew, although I haven’t been there myself I understand Botswana is a fairly stable country in Southern Africa and has not suffered the turmoil of its neighbors South Africa and Zimbabwe. The country is about 70% Christian (according to Wikipedia), predominantly Anglican I believe although I suspect a more orthodox strain than we are used to in the US or Europe.

  14. Benedict Joseph says:

    “In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.”
    Yogi Berra

  15. Kerry says:

    Can anyone offer tips or guidance on fasting, more than just, “Do not eat”. Thanks.

  16. MrsMacD says:

    Kerry a Catholic fast usually involves the two other meals of the day not equaling the third meal. On the Chartres pilgrimage, in France, every year, the meals provided are bread and peanut butter and jam for breakfast, bread for lunch and soup and bread for dinner. It’s very doable. I substitute oatmeal for breakfast, bread and peanut butter for lunch and soup for dinner. If you keep yourself busy, you hardly notice the fast, maybe that’s why they call it fast. He he.

  17. oldconvert says:

    Headline in the Catholic Herald online today: “The Pope spoke to reporters on his flight from Cuba to America “.

    Why does my heart sink a little when I read those words? (That’s a rhetorical question, by the way.) They mean I can anticipate going into the office to be greeted with comments on the level of “Your Pope Francis says that Catholics must stop being nasty about homosexuals/abortion/divorce”. I do wish the Holy Father would be more mindful of the audience he is reaching.

  18. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Among your best posts ever, Pater.

  19. norancor says:

    From an objective standpoint, those opposing the Synod are missing the point. In itself, this is a disturbing thing to know about Cd. Burke, Bp. Schneider, Cd. Mueller, and the others.

    Synodalism – the idea of the pope acting on a regular basis as the perfunctory head of a collection of bishops to act collegially by vote or comment consent – is itself a novel idea. Although Vatican I was supposed to deal with the issue of the power of the college of bishops and did not because the council was cut short, it was never a common opinion that the Holy Father had to act in concert with bishops, or that bishops could determine articles of the Faith without the Holy Father.

    A synod, or collegial action, no matter the wishes of the Holy Father or progressives in the episcopacy, is not binding. A synod, especially a collection of the college of bishops – do not enjoy the protection of Ordinary Infallibility except when stating settled doctrines, because the Deposit of Faith is immutable and infallible of itself.

    Take a few minutes (literally… the document is just over a page long) to read Apostolica Sollicitudo, the document of Paul VI that created the Synod.


    The real problem is that the Holy Father can attempt – and I say attempt on purpose – to alter the Deposit of Faith as a result of what the Synod produces. A pope is protected from formally defining error or formally denying truth, as a matter of his charism of infallibility. The bishops, individually or collectively, do not share this personal charism that the Holy Father has. It is incumbent upon him to protect the Deposit of Faith.

    I personally am not opposed to the idea of making the annulment process free and quicker for the obvious cases of defects due to canonical form or obvious impediments that were ignored, omitted, or overlooked, like the planned use of artificial contraception and so many other reasons. I think it is lost on people that Pope Francis very well may be right, and half of the marriages since the late 1960s or 70s have been invalid due to defects of form or impediments.

    We have two possible lasting problems with the Synod and the current actions of the Holy Father:

    1) The pope tries to alter the Deposit of Faith by employing “oikonomia” to allow bishops to “forgive” valid marriages. This will objectively allow bigamy. Oikonomia is a concept being borrowed from the Eastern Orthodox, and they have thoroughly corrupted their Sacraments by allowing someone to marry up to three times. The corruption of Penance then occurs by having an entire class of sinner who do not have a firm of amendment. In turn, corruption of the Sacrament of Penance will allow an official corruption of the Eucharist because those in objectively grave sin will be allowed to communicate, and do so with Church sanction.

    2) The already weak Sacrament of Marriage will be corrupted. Annulments are already considered by laity and non-Catholics as a form of “Catholic divorce.” With easy annulments, a lack of peer review, and a probable weakening of the Defender of the Bond (the priest responsible for defending that a marriage did in fact take place validly), the words of Our Lord will be effectively neutered by the Church itself.

    I cannot imagine that the Holy Ghost is going to allow either of these to occur. Heads will roll, and people will die first. God will not be mocked.

    Keep your eyes on the ball. This is about the pope and the Deposit of Faith; NOT the Synod.

  20. Mary of Carmel says:

    Thank you Father for urging us on. We must not give up even though the media has thoroughly saturated us with this story.
    Along with the belief that it will be the African Church that saves us, I have also believed that the Church in India will as well, as their vocations are growing rapidly and they are very devout and conservative.

  21. Mary of Carmel says:

    I just want to add one more point, and that is I think it is safe to say that Western Civilization, as we have known it, is at an end. Western Europe and even the United States doesn’t have the influence they used to have.
    It doesn’t have to be, of course, and there is some hope, but we need to become more devout and reverential, which is something sorely lacking in our culture today.
    Too many Catholics I know still see our beliefs as being superstitious. (Prayers to the saints, seeking aid through the rosary, and such.)
    The Battle of Le Panto could still be won today if people would just go back to their rosaries.

  22. Sandy says:

    Exactly, Mario! I said that here recently and still wonder, what the heck is with these “Rhine bishops”?! God bless the African bishops and may they have supernatural help and strength to maintain the fight. God bless you, Father Z!

  23. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    While unsuccessfully going to the Catholic Herald site to see if I could find the article in today’s Magazine entitled “The Synod’s script is atrocious” since the New Advent link did not work, I did encounter this:

    This is a version of the ‘line’ which Joris Vercammen and the Dutch Old Catholic Church institutionalized nearly nine years ago, now – with nary an objection from the “Roman Catholic” side I can discover anywhere – nothing, for example, here, nearly two-and-a-half years after Vercammen proclaimed same-sex unions ‘a contribution to the mission of the Church’ the ‘recognition’ of which motivated their ‘blessing’:

  24. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Tangentially, an encouraging item (thanks to New Advent):

    though the article I think oldconvert referred to

    does not give any suggestion that the Holy Father did in fact what the late expelled Jesuit Fr. Armando Llorente dreamt of doing:

    “The first thing that we would do would be to give each other a big hug, laugh and remember the adventures that we had together, which were many and very beautiful.” Then, urging Castro’s repentance, Llorente would state, “Fidel, the moment of truth has arrived.”

  25. Mandy P. says:

    It’s 2:43 pm EST and if you’re not watching Cardinal Sarah right now speaking at the World Meeting of Families, turn it on if you’re able. He is knocking it out of the park. I am officially a fan. This is just wonderful.

  26. LarryW2LJ says:

    Lin, do not feel guilty because of uneasiness regarding Pope Francis. I have felt that way since his election. He is my Pope and I respect his Office, and I would defend it with everything that I am. In the same breath, you do not have to be captivated by the man, himself.

    I would have to agree with norancor, that God will not be mocked and that He will not allow His Church to become corrupted to the point where it no longer resembles what He, Himself instituted.

    I have been saying the rosary everyday for the brave men who will be defending the Deposit of Faith in this upcoming synod. No one should think “that’s all they can do”. The power of the rosary is great and with enough of them offered – that’s all we need to do (in addition to Fr. Z’s good advice of fasting and remaining watchful).

  27. Nancy D. says:

    In Praying, we ask for the Wisdom to challenge the issues of the day, in the Light of our Catholic Faith.
    Would a Vicar of Christ say this:
    Page 117, of the pope’s book, On Heaven and Earth, in regards to same-sex unions
    “If there is a union of a PRIVATE NATURE, THERE IS NEITHER A THIRD PARTY NOR IS SOCIETY AFFECTED. Now, if this union is given the category of marriage and they are given adoption rights, there could be children affected. Every person needs a male father and female mother that can help them shape their identity. – Jorge Mario Bergoglio
    Or would a Vicar of Christ say this?
    Why not tell the truth and say something like this:
    It is because God Loves you and we Love you and respect your Dignity as a beloved son or daughter, that we cannot condone the engaging in or affirmation of any act, including any sexual act that demeans your inherent Dignity as a beloved child of God. The desire to engage in a demeaning act of any nature, does not change the nature of the act. We Love you, and because we Love you, we desire that you will always be treated with Dignity and respect in private as well as in public. We will not tolerate behavior that does not respect your Dignity as a beloved son or daughter.

    And then, why not make it clear that one cannot be a disciple of Christ if one denies that God Is The Author of Love, Life, and Marriage.

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